Mary Ellen Hughes, in addition to being the author of Wreath of Deception, is the author of two previous mystery novels, Resort to Murder and A Taste of Death, as well as a few short stories. She’s raised a son and daughter, has enjoyed dabbling in various crafts, and lives in Maryland with her husband.
Author Web site: www.maryellenhughes.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Mary Ellen: Wreath of Deception centers on Jo McAllister, a young widow, who attempts to start life anew as the owner of an arts and crafts shop. Her plans are jeopardized when the clown she’s hired for the grand opening is found dead in her stock room.
BookEnds: What is your favorite thing about this book?
Mary Ellen: I like the little world I’ve created for my protagonist, Jo McAllister. It’s generally a cozy, small town, with good people who look after each other. Bad things happen, of course, but I think there’s a comforting feeling hovering that all will be well, eventually.
BookEnds: What’s your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Mary Ellen: My next book is tentatively titled String of Lies. The craft it will focus on is beading, and the murder this time will greatly affect Jo’s good friends, Carrie and Dan. It will appear in September 2007.
BookEnds: What was your road to published author like?
Mary Ellen: I always enjoyed writing, joining the school newspapers in both high school and college. I didn’t, though, see journalism as a career for me, so I put writing aside to work in medical laboratories—definitely not a place for creativity. In time, though, my leanings pulled me back, and I started taking creative writing classes and writing short stories. Getting published in mystery magazines was a great encouragement, and I joined a mystery critique group and began writing novels. My first novel was bought by Avalon in 2000, the second in 2002. Then I signed on with Jacky Sach of BookEnds, and very soon had a contract with Berkley Prime Crime for the Craft Corner mystery series. It probably all sounds easier than it was, when condensed to these few sentences, since there were plenty of ups and downs along the way. But the joy of writing makes it all worthwhile.
BookEnds: How do you spend your time when not writing?
Mary Ellen: Writing has been taking up more and more of my time lately, as well as the effort toward promotion that writers need to do, such as book signings, panel talks, and such. I’ve also spent plenty of time learning more about the various crafts that my protagonist is an expert in, so that I don’t have her making silly mistakes. But when I have time off, I like to play tennis with a group of women who give me a challenging (but not TOO challenging) match. There’s nothing more relaxing, I find, than becoming engrossed in the strategy of the game, as well as the exercise it provides. I highly recommend it.
BookEnds: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Mary Ellen: My advice, not terribly original, I’m afraid, is to write as much as possible. Joining a critique group is a great step toward doing that, because having to read other critique members’ writing critically, in order to give constructive comments on it, really helps you to understand the finer points of writing. You’ll need to develop a thick skin to take critical comments on your own writing, and you may not agree with every comment. But it can’t help but make you examine your own writing more closely, and that can only help you improve.
To learn more about Mary Ellen Hughes, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.